‘We Made It Home’ from Melody Walker & Jacob Groopman - supremely seductive(October 08, 2013)
From the moment I started listening to ‘We Made It Home’ from Melody Walker & Jacob Groopman, I knew I was heading into a rewarding experience. Some albums that just reach you and this is one of them. The voices instantly engage with distinctive timbres and an amalgam of rich, warm harmonies. The narratives are supremely seductive and you’re involved with the stories the songs portray. And the musical web they weave is engaging and gifted.
So with that sounding pretty positive what do we have? There’s a set of well-written songs from Melody, a pair of double-headers with Jacob, a Paul Simon cover and a traditional – and across the board they are as unflawed as they are eclectic. I try to avoid track-by-track reviews, but many of the songs on ‘We Made It Home’ are sublime with a depth that demands description.
The title track ‘We Made It Home’ erupts with an ebullient vocal rush, filled with emotive energy; the gentle slide into the luscious duet ‘Retinue’ is an absolute treat, while ‘Betelgeuse’ is a supremely spiritual song intimating the expected supernova of Orion’s red star. And then comes ‘Black Grace’, with its gospel-category songwriting pedigree – a fiercely reflective song that breaks boundaries to present a humble human view of what we do and where we are - here or elsewhere. There’s the jovial, bluegrass-inspired family truths of ‘Come On Mule’, and by contrast the lilting melody and sombre lyrics defining the life story of boxing chimpanzee, ‘Billy the Champ’ - just listen to ‘time to go back to Africa’ and hear a single phrase move you.
The tenderness between these two musicians is palpable, the understanding that blends their voices and the conviction that runs through their music makes each song an experience to savour. From their splendidly picked cover of ‘Gracelands’ to the mandolin-inspired rich-vein vocal of ‘Sweet Sunny South’ it’s there for all to hear. And no, I didn’t cover every song.
Reviewer: Tom Franks